Does anybody here know of a way to study Japanese language, bachelor level, either by distance learning or e.g. a series of annual 2-3 month stays in Japan?
All the best
I spent a good deal of time looking through the courses offered by Japanese universities here in Japan and I found no such courses in Japanese offered for non-residential non-Japanese students leading to a degree in Japanese from such a university.
For example, there are courses in Japanese as a Foreign Language (Nihongo
: 日本語) offered at Hiroshima University, but these are restricted to non-Japanese students already enrolled, and teachers who are already employed at the university. I took such a course myself when I first started teaching there. These courses are offered by the Faculty of Education, but their main offerings are Teaching Japanese as a Foreign Language, intended for Japanese who will work abroad for organizations like JICA, or English Education, intended for Japanese students who will enter the Japanese school system.
Over at the Faculty of Letters, there are courses in Japanese, but these are classed as Kokugo
[国語: 'the national language' = Japanese as a Native Language] and aimed at Japanese students. They assume a knowledge of the Japanese language that is quite advanced, even for Japanese students. (The information on the website is given only in Japanese, which already assumes a good reading knowledge of the language.)
Anyway, I asked one of my old students to look at the possibilities. He is teaching at Shimane University and probably has a better grasp of the possibilities than I do. He has yet to reply.
But then I thought that perhaps you had chosen the wrong country to begin with and might find better possibilities in the Japanese department of a university in Europe that has a good relationship with a university in Japan. When I did my Ph.D. in London University, I often used the library at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), since it was more convenient than the British Library. Of course, there are many good libraries in London University, but SOAS had the best collection of books on Japan and in Japanese.
However, SOAS sends students to spend a year in Japan, but I was not able to find out if they offered part-time degree courses. I know UCL does, because I began my Ph.D. there as a part-time student and made arrangements to see my supervisor on a regular basis. Eventually, I changed the category to full-time and moved to London. Since I had already spent some years at Harvard, I did not have to take any courses, so I spent my time writing the thesis and doing aikido.
None of the open universities that I looked at (Open University in the UK and 放送大学 in Japan) offers courses in Japanese.
I will let you know if my student comes up with anything.